As mentioned in the previous blog post (and if you haven’t read it, this one isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense to you, so go read it), I felt it was my duty to create a glossary of watch terms using definitions that were simplified enough for someone like Boris Johnson (aka, a dumbf*ck) to understand. Today’s post is a continuation of that concept. Hope you enjoy this one as much as you seemingly liked the first (or at least, will click on this link as much as you did the other so that my overblown ego stays solidly intact).
While the word was originally defined in the 1990s as, “what guys who own Emporio Armani watches wear multiples of in yellow gold on the opposite wrist”, the term now applies to a part of an actual timepiece.
A bracelet is usually made of metal or ceramic, it is often adjustable, and it can be worn in place of most watch straps.
Not just a weekly card game played by groups of bitter women who sometimes throw tantrums when they feel they’re not winning (and no, this time I’m actually not referring to some of the people I’ve come across in my journalistic career), a bridge is also an essential part of a mechanical watch. A watch’s bridge is a bar or plate attached to the main plate with pins or screws and often labeled for the function or part in which the bridge supports.
FFS, if you don’t know what this is on a watch, don’t waste your money. You have an iPhone. Stick with that, genius.
No, pistol lovers, this isn’t the “Gun Terminology for Dummies” post. You’ll find that in any transcript of any Wayne LaPierre speech ever made. But you may want to check the NRA fan page. I hear it’s “buy one President, get one rifle free.” day.
Caliber, as it pertains to watches, refers to the watch’s movement. An in-house movement should (SHOULD!) refer to a movement made entirely (ENTIRELY!) by the watch manufacturer and not by outside sources.
This is America, so this word doesn’t matter.
Think of this part of a watch as its shell if that shell was waterproof, dust proof, moisture proof, and sometimes, inexperienced-watchmaker proof.
The case of a watch can be simple or ornate; embellished with gems or contain varying degrees of elaborate engraving. It is a large part of what gives any timepiece its beauty while still being as functional as many of the watch’s alternate parts.
(Sigh.) The back part of the definition above.
I’m super excited about this entry because I’m pretty sure this was the first legitimate watch term I ever learned. And while that was only like two weeks ago, still, it holds a special place in that thing in my chest that consistently makes thumpy type noises and causes me pain on a daily basis.
The word, “chronograph” comes from the Greek language and means, simply, “recording time.” Traditional chronograph watches doubled as stopwatches, though some modern chronographs use moveable bezels as tachymeters for calculations of distance as well as speed.
So, apparently the Swiss are the only people who can say whether or not a watch can be considered a certified “chronometer”. Yes, you heard that right, the same country that refused to take a stance in World War I or World War II by, oh, I don’t know, picking a side, has decided that NOW they’ll stand firm in their beliefs when it comes to the label your precious wrist clock should have. But hey, who am I to judge? After all, my father is Italian and my mother is German. (Does this not explain so much about my anger issues?)
All kidding aside (no, seriously Swissies, I don’t care whom exactly I piss off with these cheeky posts, but I certainly wouldn’t want it to be you, because being tortured with a giant cheese grater by an overtly indifferent executor is not the way I picture myself leaving this world), a Swiss wristwatch can be considered a chronometer if the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (or, “COCS” for sho… no… wait… wait, I’m wrong… I’m sorry, I meant “COSC” for short, my bad) deems it so by testing and certifying that these types of mechanical timepieces meet certain precision standards.
As a former metalsmith’s apprentice and junior bench jeweler, this is one definition I’m going to take seriously. The ancient art of cloisonné is still in use in the watch world today, usually seen on a watch’s dial. The decorative technique starts with the use of metal as both a backdrop and in the outline of the design itself (which will also come through in the finished product) before an enamel paste is added then fired in a kiln. Other materials which can be inlayed during the cloisonné process are minerals, gemstones, and glass.
Stay tuned for more definitions in upcoming blog posts. And if you like the artwork seen here, it was once again provided by the extraordinary Lee Yuen-Rapati – aka – OneHourWatch. Find him on Instagram, @onehourwatch, or for inquiries, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When friends text me with a question about watches before adding on the sentence, “Well, I figured I’d ask you because you’re the expert.” I laugh. No, seriously… I’ve been known to soil a couple of phone screens with wine coffee and once I even ruined a perfectly good Madewell blouse (not a sponsored sentence, but hey, Madewell, if you’re reading, call me). What all of this means is that no, dear people, I’m no watch expert nor have I ever claimed to be one. I’m about as far from that title as you can possibly imagine. There may or may not have even been a time where my eyes glazed over as Charris Yadigaroglou of MB&F explained the inner workings of the Legacy Machine Split Escapement before my mind drifted off to a daydream about my own “escape” to Split, Croatia with Charris, himself. (Shit, did I just admit that? I meant to think it.) Hell, I’m STILL trying to figure out why tourbillons have to fly or what the f*ck a 2.5Hz frequency is and why it matters to your everyday buyer, but even without knowing these mind-numbingly dull characteristics of a mechanical watch, I’m still able to tell their stories, because at the end of the day, the story is often what excites people about these timepieces, and if there’s one thing I know how to do and do well, it’s form even what I don’t know into a meaningful narrative that’s palatable to readers, knowledgeable about watches or not.
With that said, I decided it was time to create a glossary of watch terms for people like me. You know, those who are more “Watch Idiot” than “Watch Idiot Savant.” So I’ll be doing a multi-part series defining some of the more frequently-used watch-related words and terms in a way that speaks to the lay person, but whether you’re a “watch expert” or not, I hope you enjoy what you’re about to read. And if you’re the kind that’s easily offended by strong language or sexual innuendos, you may want to close your browser now. You’ve been warned.
While you may have immediately thought of that Welsh alternative band from the 80s known for their high hair and hit, “Sixty Eight Guns”, this isn’t a glossary of rock-n-roll terms, but depending on how many times this post is read, maybe that’s one for the future.
There are many watches out there that have an alarm function which does pretty much exactly what the clock by your bed does, or what your iPhone does, meaning it beeps, chimes, or buzzes, letting you know when it’s time to take your Cialis vitamins.
My, oh my, there are so many ways I’d like to describe this term but rather than go with the X-rated definition, we’ll stick with a simple sentence. Analog watches are non-digital; they’re the type of watches that have hour and minute hands. But fear not, they can be worn comfortably without the use of lubrication. OKAY F*CK IT I WENT THERE.
It means not magnetic. Duh.
While the word is defined by dictionary.com as an “opening, hole, slit, crack, or gap” (I mean, I’m being lobbed softballs in the form of innuendos here and I am really struggling not to take a swing at them), in the watch world, it refers to the cutout (often square, rectangular, or oval [let’s hope you at least know your basic geometry]) on the dial where *indications such as the date or month appear.
*See future definition of indications
The machine from which you’ll withdraw money – lots and lots of money – in order to buy the dive watch in which you’re interested. Also, with reference to terms about said expensive dive watch, “ATM”, in short, stands for “atmospheres” and represents the unit of pressure equivalent to the weight of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level. 3 ATM = 30 meters (100 ft) of depth, 5 ATM = 50 meters (160 ft) of depth, 10 ATM= 100 meters (330 ft) of depth, and so on. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can wear your dive watch in the ocean as far down as its ATM indicates, though since I’m deathly afraid of the water, I suggest you read anything by Jason Heaton to learn more about how far down you should go with your watch.
Not just a 1984 catchy jam by The Pointer Sisters (which you can view here from their performance on Soul Train), but also a fairly common watch term referring to a mechanical watch that is wound automatically by the movement of the rotor as the wearer moves her arm. That rotor – or, oscillating weight to which it is often referred – tightens, or “winds” the mainspring, thus giving a steady source of energy to the watch.
YAY! I made it to “B” without giving up! This is another one of those watch terms that makes me a little bleary-eyed, but I’ll do my best to explain it to you in the way I wish it would have been explained to me.
A balance spring (or, hairspring) and balance wheel combined make up the heart of a mechanical watch. The balance spring is a flat wired spring which is affixed to the balance cock (I swear I did not purposely use that word. It’s the legitimate term, but it still made me happy to type it) which coils and recoils in order to regulate time through the motion of the balance wheel. (I’m absolutely sure I f*cked up this explanation, but don’t @ me.)
Honestly, writing the last definition was entirely too stressful so I’m just going to ask you to use Google for this one, m’kay?
Easiest. Definition. Ever.
If you’re like I am, you immediately thought of scotch when you saw the above word, and if you did indeed do that, then you and I can be friends. But in watch speak, a barrel is way less fun, a lot more complex, and can’t make you wake up in an empty hotel bed with your Rolex missing and a racoon chewing on your Yeezys in the corner.
In a nutshell, the barrel is an etched cylinder inside of a mechanical watch which houses the watch’s mainspring (see future definition), in turn, housing its power reserve. The larger the barrel, the higher the power reserve, and watches with two barrels (referred to as a “double barrel”) will have an even higher reserve.
Not to be confused with the city in Switzerland that boasts the most expensive sausages and Air BnBs in the world (that would be, “Basel”), the bezel of a watch can either be decorative or functional (whereas the city of Basel is mostly dysfunctional), depending on the watch’s purpose. The bezel is the ring around the watch’s face and crystal and often rotates counterclockwise, though some watches do have bidirectional bezels allowing them to turn forward as well as backward. Bezels are often made in precious metals, steel, or ceramic.
Stay tuned for more definitions in upcoming blog posts. And if you like the artwork seen here, it was provided by the extraordinary Lee Yuen-Rapati – aka – OneHourWatch. Find him on Instagram, @onehourwatch, or for inquiries, email him at email@example.com.
Joe Pesci would rather be drowned in a vat of Robert DeNiro’s sweat than have to step foot again in any part of Switzerland.
The actor and I sat down to discuss why gold nugget jewelry will be making a huge comeback and why the “mob” is growing in cities like Gary, Indiana.
Happy April Fool’s Day.
The 91st annual Academy Awards may have no host, but what it lacks in good judgement from a show standpoint, it makes up for in its choices for Best Picture. This year’s pool of Oscar-nominated films is the finest and most diverse group the Academy has selected in years, in my opinion. From a superhero smash hit with a predominantly black cast, to a Netflix original about life in the early seventies in Mexico City, to the number of biographical films addressing sexual identities, the Academy – while not perfect – is slowly recognizing the beauty in our differences, and thankfully, the watch world is starting to do the same.
To celebrate this year’s Academy Award Best Picture nominees, I decided to associate each of them with a new release from watch brands that exhibited at the 2019 edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva this past January. And while you might be sarcastically thinking, “Great, another article about the SIHH”, just know I’m thinking “Great, another a**hole who wants to judge a piece of writing without reading it” in response. So, if you care to read a post about this year’s novelties that’s slightly different than what you’ve read already, carry on. If not, there are a butt-ton of other watch blogs out there to which you can geek out. Cheers!
BlacKkKlansman: Okay, I’m going to go ahead and write about this movie first because it was the most difficult to associate with a watch and feel like I did so respectfully. I’m Caucasian, so there really isn’t a way for me to think like someone who isn’t, which, I feel is part of society’s problem. As a person who grew up on the border of “white and black” West Philly in the seventies and eighties, and then who moved to the projects of South Philly for the rest of my teenage life, I’m probably more aware of racism than many of my white friends, so when I see a “Black Lives Matter” sign in the yards of white people, I often think to myself, “Is this really what black people want to see? Advertising by whites that we support them? Or would they rather we, as a race, just shut up and listen to what they have to say so that we can learn and change?” The reality is, we, as white people, will never understand what it’s like to be pre-judged or to be labeled because of what we look like, and honestly, we shouldn’t act like we do.
BlacKkKlansman is based on a true story of a black officer by the name of Ron Stallworth who infiltrated the KKK and aided in arresting racist members of the police in Colorado the 1970s. Think about that for a moment. He was a black man in the seventies, and without knowing anything about him, people judged him because of what he looked like. As far as picking a watch that I could be associated with that feeling, I struggled. I first thought about the color – black. I could go with any number of PVD coated releases, but to simply pick a watch that was black seemed lazy on my part. Then after speaking to a good friend who is also a watch writer, I thought maybe I’d go the route of an independent watch brand; a brand that released a watch that was unexpected, which, I thought was a good idea at first, but when I looked at the makers, I felt like I couldn’t find a good fit. That’s when it hit me. Which brand came into the SIHH with a release that was already hated ahead of it even being seen? There was only one answer: Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet.
I’ll admit that I, too, was a bit surprised when I first laid eyes on the design in pictures. And even after seeing it – albeit briefly – in Geneva at the SIHH, I was still unsure of how exactly I felt about it. But then in Miami, at this year’s Watches & Wonders, I got to spend some solid time with the watches, and after learning more about the process with which it was made through people like Michael Friedman and Paul Lerner, I found myself feeling guilty that I hadn’t given it the chance it deserved. The selection pictured contains the self-winding AP caliber 4302 which has a minimum 70-hour power reserve, contains 32 jewels, is water-resistant to 30 meters, has a black lacquered dial with 18K pink gold hands and hour markers, a hand-stitched alligator strap, and is 41mm in diameter with a glare proof sapphire crystal case back. You may not like the outward design, but you cannot argue that what’s inside many of the editions of the new Code 11.59 doesn’t get the job done. And for those who haven’t seen it up close, I recommend waiting to voice your negative – or any – opinions until you do.
Vice: While this politically-charged flick starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams is based on the rise of former Vice President Dick Cheney (emphasis on Dick – yeah, I went there), the word “vice” can also have a different meaning, as many of us know. While “vice” as a noun can be defined as “immoral or wicked behavior” it can also mean something which constitutes as a bad habit, like smoking, or drinking, or even, eating things that aren’t good for you. You know… things like candy.
The Richard Mille “Fraise” from their recently released and much discussed Bonbon collection is a watch that could be seen as having many vices. For one, its dial is made up of a cornucopia of sweet treats which were meticulously crafted and placed on the dial by hand. If there is another vice that has to do with Richard Mille watches, however, it could be seen in the sheer ownership of them, or at least, to the spouses or partners of those who may collect them. While the Fraise version has a roughly 55-hour power reserve, automatic winding RM 16-01 caliber movement, and is water resistant to 30 meters, it does indeed come with a $132,500.00 price tag, which may not be as sweet to some as others (but let’s face it, that price is still probably much sweeter than Dick Cheney could ever be).
The Favourite: We all have our favourites (or, in America, our “favorites”), do we not? In this early 18th century period piece about Queen Anne, her somewhat sinister lesbian lover, and that lover’s somewhat sinister cousin Abigail, we are treated to a black comedy (sprinkled with a touch of drama) that not only pleases the vixen in all of us, but also somewhat tugs at our heartstrings. We each have an angel and a devil on our shoulders. We’re all prone to seek out the thrill of the occasional evil while knowing full well it’s the good in us that will prevail in the end. Our hearts can sometimes be split in two; whether that be because of our decisions about right and wrong, or – as in the case with this film – because of our feelings of desire for more than one person, or even, one gender.
It was these reasons that made my decision to associate the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat with this Academy Award nominated film. Well, these reasons as well as the fact that this watch was, hands down, my favorite (or, “favourite”) of all of this year’s releases at the SIHH. What can I say about the Twin Beat that hasn’t already been said by the multitude of ROWPs (that’s, “Reputable Online Watch Publications” for those of you who didn’t attend my panel at last year’s Horology Forum in London) who’ve reviewed the watch already? For a person like me (meaning, a “watch enthusiast-in-training”), the Twin Beat gave me something to be excited about (particularly its 65 days of power reserve on standby mode). It ignited my senses in a way no other watch has done thus far in 2019 because – bells and whistles aside – it is a watch so unlike anything Vacheron Constantin has produced up to this point, and that, alone, makes it the winning duck. #ifyouknowyouknow
Green Book: 2019 was certainly the year for biographical movies and Green Book is no exception. Based on African-American classical and jazz musician Don Shirley’s trip through the Deep South with an Italian night club bouncer as his bodyguard, the film has received rave reviews with regard to the lead performances by Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen (or as I know them best, Boggs from The Hunger Games and Aragorn from the greatest trilogy ever made). Don Shirley was a musician unlike most Americans had seen in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a black man playing classical music, who experimented with jazz, composed and wrote symphonies, and even created a one-act opera. He was highly respected for his talents but the color of his skin – along with his sexual preferences – made him a bit of a disruption once he stepped foot off the stage. Yet even with the threats he received, often by people in power, Shirley continued to do what he knew he did best: play his music.
For this movie’s associated watch, I’ve chosen the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Cosmic Green by H. Moser & Cie for a handful of reasons. One, its name. An endeavour is defined (in its form as a noun) as an attempt at achieving a goal, which Don Shirley set out to do when he toured the Midwest and the South. But the color of this watch – the Cosmic Green – also reflects the color of the travel guide written for black motorists after which the film is named. To not also state I selected a watch by a brand that tends to make enemies for themselves and is occasionally accused of being disruptive would be misleading, so, there’s that, too. But I also chose it because – full disclosure – I just really like the watch. It has a beautiful sunburst-patterned dial, is a perfect size at 42mm in diameter, contains the automatic caliber HMC 804 movement with bi-directional pawl winding system and a minimum 3-day power reserve, and is accompanied by a gorgeous hand-stitched tan leather strap. I dig it. And I bet the boys in the car headed South would have dug it, too.
Bohemian Rhapsody: As stated previously, this was the year for films based on real people with real struggles, and this flick about Queen front man and music icon Freddie Mercury is no exception. The film follows his career from its beginning to his memorable performance at Live Aid in 1985 (and yes, I’m old enough to remember that performance [insert crying emoji here]) as well as his sometimes controversial path to finding his identity through his desires and relationships both sexually and otherwise.
The art of Milo Manara has, at times, also caused controversy. His erotic works have sometimes been seen as sexualizing women, and I can’t totally argue with that. But while, in certain circumstances, like his drawing of Spider-Woman climbing a roof in a clearly sexual way, in the case of this year’s Ulysse Nardin Erotic timepieces, I found his work to be quite beautiful, and even, a bit bohemian.
The limited-edition watches tell the story of a woman, the sea, its creatures, and a mermaid lover. In them, Manara is able to show off his ability to draw women in the throes of passion, yet with these watches, it is the mermaid who is the one pleasuring another woman orally. Oh, and this watch tells time, too. Just in case you stopped sweating enough to care. The end.
Black Panther: OH THANK YOU, DEITY! We finally have a superhero movie nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards! And what a movie, it is. If you haven’t seen Black Panther, please do. I don’t care if you’re the kind of person who only watches indie flicks at vintage cinemas through your Warby Parker’s while eating kale chips and drinking amaretto sours in lieu of scarfing down popcorn and Coca-Cola (by the way, if you are that person, I kind of hate you), you will still like this movie. And Angela Bassett is in it. And she’s awesome in everything. And it’s on Netflix right now. So go, hipster person. Go now and enlighten yourself. Give yourself up to the Marvel Universe and all of its action-adventure, big box office goodness. WAKANDAAAAAAAAAAA FOREVERRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!
Oh, wait, I almost forgot I had to pick a watch for this movie. I mean, it’s a bit *on the nose*, but how could I not go with the Panthère Dentelle watch by Cartier? OBVS, right? Plus, I haven’t really selected a women’s watch for any of the choices thus far so this works perfectly for that reason alone. The Panthère Dentelle pictured here is stunning in person. It measures 36mm in diameter and comes with a beautiful glossy black alligator strap, but the signature cat on the dial is what pulls the onlooker in. The emerald eyes and 480 round brilliant cut white diamonds pop against the black lacquer spots, and the watch is water resistant to 30 meters just in case one should find themselves spilling their mineral water packaged in eco-friendly carboard at the movie theatre.
Roma: This was also a difficult movie with which to associate any watch, let alone a release from this year. Next to BlacKkKlansman, this was the hardest to depict through something material because the movie is so real, and the story, so vivid and so multi-faceted; sad and joyful in so many ways. Roma is about the life of an indigenous live-in housekeeper and her family and friends in a small neighborhood in Mexico City, but largely, it’s about the daily struggles with which she copes. They are, from the outsider’s point of view, not unlike some struggles of the poor in America, and yet they can also be seen as worlds apart because being poor in America and being poor in some of the violent parts of Mexico are clearly not the same thing.
For this movie, I’m associating the HYT H0 ‘Time is Precious’. The broken mirror-like shards of the watch’s façade remind the wearer that things don’t always look the same, and that something can be seen in a variety of ways, depending on the day, the light, the person’s feelings, or even the time, which, as HYT often reminds us, is fluid. I see this watch and I’m reminded of how quickly life and the circumstances in one’s life can change, and the ‘Time is Precious’ association is as true to that life as it is to the film with which I’ve associated this watch.
A Star is Born: Last but not least… Honestly, I loathe that cliché but hell, what else am I going to say after almost 3000 words? I mean, we’re far from the shallow now, amiright? So, this is one of the more talked about movies of the group for obvious reasons. For one, Bradley Cooper sings… like, actually sings… and he does so while looking amazingly rugged, emotionally fragile, and yet still madly in love with the woman to whom he sings. And she – as we know – represents the majority of us who feel self-conscious about our talents or how we look physically, largely because of what people have told us our entire lives. It is not the first time this story has been depicted on the big screen. This is the fourth time this film has been made with the first being in 1937 and having a script co-written by the inimitable Dorothy Parker. But this is the first time the film has been released in the age of the internet and social media, which has only added to its popularity and the adoration of its lead actors.
There were a couple of watch choices I thought might work well with this movie (and no, sorry, Bradley, none of them was an IWC) but I also had to look at how those watches were perceived by the media or public, in general, after their releases at the SIHH. The watch I decided on was certainly one that I felt found stardom this year: the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune by Hermès. In a similar way that director Bradley Cooper took this age old-story and breathed new life into it by changing how the story was perceived, Hermès takes the idea of the traditional moon phase watch and deconstructs it, using two fixed mother-of-pearl moons (against a star-like aventurine backdrop) showing the Southern and Northern hemispheres represented by the words “sud” and “nord”, while two white lacquer dials – one indicating the hours and minutes and the other the date – hover over the moons while rotating around the dial so that they cover and uncover them according to whatever the current moon phase might be. The watch also contains the Hermès caliber H1837 self-winding movement, measures 43mm in diameter, and is water resistant to 30 meters because you may cry on it when you see this movie or maybe even when you see just how beautiful this watch is.
That’s all, kids. Grab your wine, whiskey, and more wine and be sure to follow me over on the Twitter (@whatsonherwrist and @adornmentality) as I’ll be live-tweeting tonight’s Oscars’ red carpet.
Long live Awards Shows!
What is it about the human desire to be around things that are old? Think about it. We scour antique stores searching for tabletop trinkets made in Transylvania. We hit our local estate sales with the same enthusiasm as a minor league player stepping up to the plate for the very first time. And we’re even happy to buy watches from retail shops that have a layer of dust on their shelves thicker than the Spring issue of Vogue. To us, old can mean established. It can represent wisdom, or endurance, or even reliability. Old means something of substance stood the test of time, which is why displaying time in a building as old as Gotham Hall is as fitting as it is festive.
It could very well be coincidence that the organizers of WatchTime New York chose this curious venue – the former Greenwich Savings Bank building, completed in 1924 – to hold their fair, or it could be that the team did their research and saw the tie-in with time. Greenwich is not just a village in New York City. As we all know (or should know), Greenwich is the area near London which in 1884 was assigned the line of 0 degrees longitude. It is from this point, all terrestrial longitudes are measured, and the world’s time zones are calculated. GMT, also known as Greenwich Mean Time, plays *the* essential role in modern timekeeping. “The whole world takes it’s time from Greenwich” is a line uttered by Dick Van Dyke’s character Bert in the 1964 musical Mary Poppins, and for many a New York-based collector, enthusiast, and watch journalist, the weekend of October 26th, 2018 meant exactly that.
While not an established entity, per se, the days leading up to WatchTime New York have unofficially been dubbed “New York Watch Week” because of the multitude of events and gatherings thrown by brands and retailers, alike.
When an affair such as this is able to gather watch personalities such as Romain Gauthier, Fiona Krüger, Stephen Forsey, Montblanc’s Davide Cerrato, and others in one place at one time, the main event is bound to grow legs, which frankly, is a good thing for the future of the watch industry. Think of the pregame festivities as the watch world’s foreplay before the climax that is Watchtime New York. (Yes, I just drew an analogy between a watch fair and sex [just ask Stephen Forsey] because let’s face it, I can, and if not me, who?) And if WTNY is indeed the climax, then consider the weekly RedBar gathering on the Wednesday before as a solid attempt at reaching first base.
This year’s pre-WTNY RedBar brought in faces seldom seen this side of the pond, with one face in particular being a complete New York newbie: Rexhep Rexhepi, who was going to be showing his creations at the WatchTime show for the first time. Like most human beings who’ve visited New York as a Big Apple virgin, Rexhep was smitten. “Everyone has been so nice” he said, and I thanked my lucky stars he hadn’t yet visited Brooklyn before making that statement.
Attendees of Wednesday’s RedBar were treated to another surprise… a guest appearance by watch connoisseur, artist, and actor, Aldis Hodge, who for some reason, willingly stayed until “closing ceremonies”, giving those in attendance a line we won’t soon forget: “Wow, this looks like all kinds of bad decisions.” Indeed it was, Aldis. Indeed… it… was.
The Main Event
As with previous editions of WTNY, this year’s fair also included a variety of seminars and talks in order to further the horological education of those in attendance. The talks included a discussion on the future of watch collecting, a panel with American watchmakers and designers, and an opportunity to meet and ask questions of some of the independent watchmakers mentioned earlier in this post.
What was also refreshing to see with regard to WatchTime New York, was just how many women were in attendance, whether they be running the show (women like Sara Orlando, Minda Larsen, and Ana Martins are largely responsible for keeping this thing going), attending the show as collectors, working the show as watchmakers (shout out to my homegirl Nat at Jaeger-LeCoultre!) or exhibitors, or covering it as members of the press. It felt as if this year saw a real increase in women attendees which will hopefully nudge the big brands even more to pay attention to those often forgotten in the past.
But the biggest takeaway from WatchTime New York that any person with a pulse could summon is that they directly reach the often unreachable: the everyday buyer. Is it an event that welcomes serious watch collectors? Sure, but collectors aren’t the only buyers in the marketplace. WTNY is open to the public for a minimal ticket price, which means the average Joe/Joanne can attend and not be afraid to ask questions, unlike if they stepped foot into a high-end watch retailer. Look, I’m only as successful (sort of) as I am because I am able to reach the people who are novices; because I have been able to learn about this business while taking my reader along with me for the ride. Not every reader out there is schooled in horology, nor do many of them even know what a flying tourbillon is (or care), so to have a trade fair that is inclusive to both the dilletantes as well as the novices is important to the future of this industry, and Watchtime New York accomplishes this task successfully and has so year after year.
So, kudos to the organizers for another great event. Hopefully New York will become a force to be reckoned with in the very near future as it pertains to the worldwide watch industry, and with Baselworld going through the changes it currently is, the future looks about as bright in New York City as a big, shiny apple. (The fruit. Not the wannabe watch.)
(Images provided by WatchTime New York)
“If all time is eternally present/All time is unredeemable.”
The above lines were taken from the “Burnt Norton” poem in T.S. Eliot’s famed works, The Four Quartets. And while many refer to the poet as being an American because he was born in St. Louis, Eliot had technically renounced his United States citizenship in 1927 after legally becoming a British subject. Despite what was written on his 1888 birth certificate, Eliot considered himself to be quite the Englishman until the day of his death in 1965, and it is widely known that the poet lived his life obsessed with a single primary concept…
The first international Horology Forum took place on September 11th and 12th in the heart of London. The event – the brainchild of the creators of Dubai Watch Week and co-sponsored by Christie’s auction house – invited experts and novices alike to attend a series of thought-provoking panels and take part in free-flowing discussions in order to “bridge the widening generation gap between tradition and innovation,” according to the forum’s organizers. In other words, a slew of folks from all over the world gathered in the city where T.S. Eliot took his final breaths and likely closed the book on his obsession with time.
The forum itself consisted of five panels (Battle of the Soothsayers; Cultural Clout – the iBuyer Cult; The British Watch Industry: Colonizing Greenwich Meridian; When David Clocks Goliath; and, Genta and Daniels’ Punctual Yet Untimely Legacy), and one good ol’ fashioned British roast (which actually turned out to be a bit more of a ‘warming’ due to the very British politeness of those on the panel).
As an honored invitee to the event and guest moderator for the iBuyer Cult panel, I was treated not only to the experience of listening to and learning from speakers such as Peter Speake-Marin, Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, Fabrizio Buonamassa, Grégory Dourde, Christine Hutter, and Roger Smith, but was also able to take part in additional events such as a fascinating seminar at Christie’s Late on
how color plays a major role in watchmaking (and always has throughout history), and an auctioneer training class that happened prior to Wednesday’s first panel discussion. Members of the press were also given the opportunity to interview the speakers and the moderators, allowing me to take full advantage of one-on-one time with H. Moser & Cie CEO Edouard Meylan, actor and watch designer Aldis Hodge, and Christie’s SVP and International Head of Watches John Reardon.
Mr. Reardon told me about his first experience with mechanical watches. “I will share a story today I never shared before,” he said to me when we first sat down for his interview, “because I’m inspired by the Princess Leia sticker you have on your computer. When I was six or seven years old, my parents, for Christmas, gave me a Buck Rodgers plastic watch. I was obsessed with sci-fi things as a child. It was a mechanical watch with plastic gears, and they were all different colors. I still have it to this day, and it still doesn’t work, because the first thing I did was take it apart. I was curious, ‘how does this little machine work?’ so I took it apart and tried to put it back together. I was inspired and curious as to how these little objects tell time, from a little kid’s perspective.”
Mr. Hodge also allowed me to take a glimpse into his childhood, to where his passion for watches and watch design began. “I love natural elements. I had a scientific mind when I was younger; I always wanted to be an engineer of some sort. For me, [getting into watchmaking] is a staple of achievement because I’ve been an actor since I was 2 or 3 years old. I would have had to quit that entirely in order to achieve my academic desires, but with watchmaking, that sort of encompasses art, architecture, engineering, and science.”
My conversation with Mr. Meylan delved more into his thoughts on the changes occurring in Basel, his company’s presence there, and which markets around the world he sees as becoming key players in the success of his brand. “Right now, for us, our two biggest markets are Asia and Europe, with Hong Kong and Switzerland being substantial. Germany and France are also good markets for us in Europe. But the two markets where we are seeing the strongest growth are definitely the Middle East and the United States. My brother just moved to Dubai, actually. We opened an office there, and the brand is really doing well.”
What Horology Forum and Dubai Watch Week succeed at accomplishing, where some other horologically-themed events falter, is invoking discussions that are current and relevant, and which are also hot topics often able to be intelligently debated. The panel I moderated is a perfect example of this. When I asked Scottish watch designer Fiona Krüger if there was a time when a watch world dilettante ever commented on one of her designs via the internet, she said that they had and proceeded to give an example of a remark made on her most recent watch release, the Chaos Mechanical Entropy. “One of the examples I got online was, ‘somebody take her computer away’ to which my reaction was, ‘I’m sorry mate, but I draw everything by hand in a sketch book, so, unlucky for you.’” We eventually moved the panel in the direction of influencers – particularly on social media – and whether or not the term is seen as a “dirty word” in the horological world. Watch brand D1 Milano’s founder Dario Spallone was the first to offer an opinion. “For me, an influencer is someone who influences the purchasing habit of the consumer. It’s not only about being an Instagram influencer. It’s also about being someone who – in real life – intertwines with the brand’s values.” And while discussion and debate happened naturally during each of Horology Forum’s panels, it was the eventual audience participation that left many wanting more. This is where the beauty of this event truly blooms into something spectacular, and this is why it’s incredibly important to gather people from every area of the watch world – be they designer, watchmaker, savant, collector, journalist, blogger, executive, retailer, or novice – in order to better understand our industry. What we, as attendees of Horology Forum and Dubai Watch Week, get to experience is the horological world through someone else’s eyes. We get to look at how the masters see their life’s work, at how artists are inspired, at what writers find interesting, and at what retailers do to speak to their customers. If every industry – heck, if every government – held an event yearly like this, we’d likely find that we’d see one another in a different way, and that we’d understand each other or, at bare minimum, hear each other out. I doubt that everything discussed at Horology Forum was agreed upon by all those in attendance, but it also wasn’t supposed to be. The event was created to make us think, at least in my opinion it was, and it certainly made me think long and hard about why I chose to write about watches and how I’ll see them in the future.
My days spent in London leading up to and including this event were invaluable. Listening to the stories about Gérald Genta and the “rebirth” of British watchmaking were indispensable. And gaining the knowledge I did while still a rookie in the world of watch journalism was, well, irreplaceable. But mostly, the entire experience is one that will remain truly unforgettable.
The final experience we had as a collective group was a beautifully arranged dinner at Boulestin, courtesy of our hosts. There, we were invited to relax in the company of our peers, sip fine wine and eat delicious French fare before saying our final goodbyes and heading off to our little corners of the Earth. It was a magnificent send-off filled with warmth and cheer, and I’m ever grateful to all of those who made it possible, and who also asked me to play such an important part in it.
So, to Melika Yazdjerdi – whom I had the pleasure of interviewing prior to this year’s Horology Forum – I congratulate you on a truly special, successful, one-of-a-kind experience. Your vision comes to life in this event, and we in the watch community owe you a debt of gratitude. To Hind Seddiqi and your entire team of AMAZING WOMEN, I cannot thank you enough. I have never felt so welcomed and so valued in the watch community as I had during this event. Thank you so, so much. To Shruti Dileep, what can I say? Thank you for being my “go-to” for everything; every question, every need, every worry. You’re the best. And to Dominique Mahoney, well, I feel like we were separated at birth, and I’ll just leave it at that. I cannot wait to work with you again someday. Thank you to John Reardon and those at Christie’s who helped to make this possible, and special thanks to everyone at Seddiqi Holdings who played a part in the organization and follow-through of Horology Forum.
“I journeyed to London, to the timekept City/Where the River flows, with foreign flotations.” – T.S. Eliot, The Rock
“The only way to break out is to gamble.” – Jerry Jones
Las Vegas, June 3rd, 2016.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been there for work about four or five billion times (or so I’ve felt). Maybe it’s because “fake” isn’t my thing, so the fake city, fake Eiffel Tower, fake cheekbones, fake sculptures, and fake fun doesn’t really appeal to me. Or, maybe it’s because paying $27 for a mediocre gin martini presented to me by an obsequious “mixologist” seems, oh, I don’t know, like something Dean Martin would be really pissed off about if he were alive today. But man, I REALLY hate Las Vegas. Hate hate it. Like, how my eight-year-old daughter hates green foods, or like how Canadians hate the word “hate” because let’s be honest, in their minds, it could just as easily be replaced by the word “like” in any sentence. But on this night, I found myself in Las Vegas, three months into writing this here watch blog, and two glasses of wine into the COUTURE Show opening party at the Wynn hotel, sponsored by none other than LVMH watch brand, TAG Heuer.
One doesn’t have to be a WIS to know the back story of Jean-Claude Biver; one simply has to be somewhat literate and hopefully have a pulse to be even vaguely aware of the watch world giant. By the time I made the decision to take my writing over to the watch side, I’d read my fair share of articles and heard my fair share of stories of the man who many describe still as “larger than life.”
I remember just having wrapped up a conversation with Scott Saunders of London Jewelers when Mr. Biver was introduced, before he graciously took the microphone as he stepped on to the COUTURE Show stage. His remarks seemed quaint to me at first; simple, and yet substantial. Everyone in the crowd stood still, patiently hanging on to JCB’s words which were becoming more intense by the second.
“ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!” he finally exclaimed loudly into the mic, giving credit to the Beatles for a line that even the millennials in the room would recognize. Love. He was yelling about love. Here was a man so bold, and so recognized, and so successful, and he was talking to a room full of jewelry and watch people about a universal emotion as simple – and as complicated – as love. About the power of love. About the positivity of love. And about love’s effect on everything we do in our lives and every decision we make. “All you need… is love.”
By the time he left the stage, the room acted as if it had just witnessed a modern-day prophet perform a miracle for the ages. People were cheering so vehemently I wondered if Mr. Biver would actually come back out and sing “Freebird” while we all swayed and raised our cigarette lighters. It was astonishing to witness and awe-inspiring at the same time. I wanted to start hugging strangers in the room and tell them I loved them (but I didn’t because when you do that in Vegas, people get the wrong idea about what you actually do for a living). I was invigorated, and felt kind of… well, lucky… and when you’re feeling lucky in Vegas there’s really only one place to go…
Vegas was built for a reason, and that reason was money, and money alone. Gambling is the fabric used in the tattered quilt that blankets the city, and to go and not gamble even once seems almost sacrilegious, so I decided to head inside to the Wynn’s grand casino and take my chances at the tables.
The sounds of coins falling and bells ringing are synonymous with Vegas. The smell of a casino floor can’t be replicated – nor should it – as the lingering feelings of both hope and despair hang tauntingly in the recycled air. Yet as I strolled through the crowds of thirty-something bachelors and their nightly rent-a-dates toward the blackjack area, I could see a figure walking quickly toward me in the mix of what would appear to be an entourage.
It was The Prophet, himself: Mr. Jean-Claude Biver.
I’d never met him before, nor had I met anyone in the watch world who held a position such as his. I was new still, and green, and honestly, I didn’t know crap about the industry. But he was headed my way, and I knew that if I didn’t at least tell him that I liked his speech, I’d lose an opportunity I might never get again. But what happens if I stop him and he wants to talk watches? I can’t fake it! Vegas or not, I suck at bullshitting.
The more I thought about it, the closer he got, and when he had just walked past me, I idiotically blurted out his name.
He turned toward me, almost startled, and his people turned too.
“I’m Barbara Palumbo. I write a watch blog called WhatsOnHerWrist. It’s sort of focused on women. I’m a fan though, and I saw your speech, and I just wanted to meet you.”
He smiled his wide, toothy smile as he walked back toward me and took my business card from my outstretched and slightly shaking hand, before reaching into his pocket and handing me his in return.
We spoke for a few minutes, once I calmed my nerves, and he told me to email him any time if I had any questions or needed anything. Then he shook my hand, and he and his people walked off into the desert night while I stood there staring at the plain white business card which bore his name.
Upon my return home to Atlanta, I wrote a recap of my experience at COUTUREtime and decided to take Mr. Biver up on his offer, so I emailed it to him, and to my surprise, received a reply within the hour:
“Hello Barbara, thank you for your email and article! I enjoyed reading it and could imagine you enjoying writing it. Hope to catch up with you soon.”
It was, for someone like me, a moment I won’t soon forget.
You see, I guess I’m still green. I like people who are nice to me; who take the time to mentor me, and do right by me, knowing that I’m in this to learn, and that no matter what happens, or what road bumps I hit, I’m not giving up. I like writing about brands who employ good people; positive people. I enjoy sharing their stories because this industry is about more than mere material possessions with a history. Watches ARE their people. Watches wouldn’t exist without their designers or their creators or their marketers or sellers or CEOs or those, like me, who tell their stories. And this simple moment – this gamble that I took in Vegas at the very beginning – put me on the right mental path, because it showed me that someone as important to the watch world as Jean-Claude Biver was willing to take the time and share a kind word of support with someone like me, who was just starting out.
So, to you, Mr. Biver, I say “cheers” today. Cheers on celebrating your 69th birthday, on celebrating forty extraordinary years doing what you seemingly love, and on deciding to take time for you in a different way than you had been recently. We know that you’re still around for those of us who have questions or need anything, but speaking for myself, you already gave me what it was I needed.
Thank you, sir. I guess that’s really all I wanted to say through this story. Merci.